Presentation on theme: "Child Deprivation Domestic Violence and Visitation"— Presentation transcript:
1 Child Deprivation Domestic Violence and Visitation Lauren LittonNCJFCJ.orgVicky O. KimbrellGeorgia Legal Services Program
2 Ways in Which Co-Occurrence May Become Evident Domestic violence was the underlying factor that brought the family to the system’s attention and led to the abuse or neglect of the child.The children were abused or neglected in an unrelated manner and during the course of interviews or pendency of the court case the fact that domestic violence is occurring in the home has come to the attention of a professional involved in the case.The biological parents of the abused or neglected child are not together but there is a history of domestic violence between them and the court case either reestablishes contact or provides further access for the battering parent to the child and abused parent.
3 Battering TacticsTelling the children that they cannot be a family because of the victimShowing up unexpectedly to see the children or picking them up without informing the other parentCalling the victim constantly under the guise of talking to or about the childrenShowering the children with gifts during visitsUndermining the victim parent’s rules for the childrenStalkingKeeping the children longer than agreed upon or abducting them
4 Tactics, continuedAsking children what the victimized parent is doing and who she is seeingCriticizing, assaulting, or threatening the victim’s new partnerThreatening to take custody away or make a false child protection report if she does not agree to reconcileTelling the children that the victimized parent is an alcoholic, addict, or mentally illKeeping court cases active by frequent filingsPhysically abusing the children and ordering them not to tell their motherChanging visitation plans without notice
5 When a battered parent is protected from abuse, she then is better able to protect her abused child. Even if the abusive relationship dissolves, frequently victims want their children to have a relationship with their fathers if it can be done in a way that does not compromise their own safety or the safety of their children.
6 Things That Can Be Done Safety Planning Separate Case Plans Oversight Batterer AccountabilityTailoring ServicesCommunity ResourcesCollaboration and CoordinationAssessmentConfidentiality
7 The design of the family time must include procedures that meet the safety needs of both the child and the victimized parent.
8 Considerations in Designing Visitation/Exchanges Type of contact; consistency of ordersIf supervised, who is ready to take onSchedulingStaggered arrival/departure timesSecurity/access to helpConfidentialitySeparate orders for eachSeparate considerations for each child
9 “The battered mother has to worry that if she leaves, the abuser will take her children, and if she doesn’t, that the government will.” Jill Zuccardy, attorney in Nicholson v. Williams
10 Why doesn’t she just leave? Her childhood IsolationBeliefs about marriage and/or menFEAR - #1 reasonSafetyLack of moneyThreats to childrenPromisesLack of enforcementFrequency/Severity of abuse
11 The Child Endangerment Statute - Cruelty to Children O.C.G.A. SecSecond Degree - Such person, who is the primary aggressor, intentionally allows a child under the age of 18 to witness the commission of a . . .family violence batterySuch person, who is the primary aggressor, having knowledge that a child under l8 is present and sees or hears the act, commits family violence battery.
12 The most important determinant of family reunification is … Consistent and frequent Visitation
13 Legal Requirements before Removal in Georgia Continuation in the home contrary to the welfare of the childReasonable efforts by DFCS to prevent or eliminate the need for the removalSuch findings shall be made at every subsequent reviewRelative Resource placementChild’s health and safety is paramount (a)(1)Parents have right to zealous and competent representation. Indigent parents have right to appointed counsel
14 Principles for an Effective and Humane CPS System - Greenbook Safety, well-being and stability for children and familiesChildren in care of non-offending parentCommunity service system with many points of entryDifferential response to families
15 Domestic violence perpetrators do not victimize only adults. Principle I: Courts, lawyers, child protectiveagencies, domestic violenceagencies must intervene to create safety, enhancewell-being, and provide stability for children andtheir families.Domestic violence perpetrators do not victimize only adults.Where women are abused, their children are also often maltreated.Services must be provided for the parent-victim to protect children. Erom: Effective Intervention in Domestic Violence & Child Maltreatment Cases – National Council of Juvenile & Family Court Judges - Greenbook
16 Principle II: To ensure stability and permanency for children, courts and communities must try to keep children in the care of their non-offending parent.Historically, mothers have been held responsible for batterer’s violence – failure to protect;Shortsighted to remove children from care of their battered mothers rather than remove the batterer;Link the safety of the children to safety of the mother;Communities must develop a broad range of services and interventions for family violence –Natl. Assn. Of Public Child Welfare Administrators (1999) Guidelines for a Model System.
17 Criminal Responsibility Civil Responsibility Principle III: Responsibility for Family Violence Must be Placed Where it Belongs – On the AbuserCriminal ResponsibilityCivil ResponsibilityFinancial / Economic ResponsibilityBatterer Intervention ProgramsParenting TrainingSupervised VisitationDrug/Alcohol Abuse Intervention – Not excuses, not causes of abuse.
18 Do’s and Don’ts Caseplans DV ToolKit - Tools to Effectively Intervene in DV Cases Where Children are at RiskDo’s and Don’tsCaseplansTPOsDV SheltersSeparation from BatterersEvaluationsCounselingVisitation
19 Separation from Batterer DoEducate Victims on Separation resources -Places, sheltersFinancial resources,Child SupportPublic BenefitsTANF, Food StampsMedicaid, PeachcareSSI/SSDPublic/Subsidized Hsg.PUP fundsVictims CompensationDon’tMake Victim Responsible for SeparationMandate Separation without safety planning - More women are killed leaving than staying. 75% of homicides during separation
20 EvaluationsDoOffer Services Relevant to the Safety Needs of the Victim and ChildrenDon’tOrder evaluations because “everybody” gets them - parenting classes won’t keep anyone safeDrug testing, mental health - being beaten is not a mental condition
21 Joint Case Plans Put Victims & Their Children in Danger Make each party responsible only for the actions they can control. “Ms. Jones will not participate in domestic violence.” – From CPS caseplan.If he knows where and when her classes/evaluations/tests/services are scheduled, she’s in danger - and the case plan put her there.FVIPS are never appropriate for victims
22 Temporary Protective Orders DoAdvise Client of OptionsRefer Client to Legal Services, Private Attys,Legal Advocate, Vic Asstc, SAAGsRealistically explain benefits and risks of TPOsDon’tMandate TPOsTPOs can Anger BattererMutual TPOsUses your authority to control victimVictim has more information than you upon which to make decisions
23 Economic AbuseCourt cannot use lack of economic resources as a basis for taking children from parents.Court has held that “by harm, the court means either physical harm or significant, long-term emotional harm; we do not mean merely social or economic disadvantages.” Clark v. Wade, 273 Ga. 587 (2001)
24 2007 New Child Support Guidelines Child support as an economic weaponsNew child support complexitiesBest interest of the child standardDownward deviation allowed when parents attempting to establish safe homeplace for the child in state custody
25 What can lead to economic abuse? Lack of child support in TPOsLack of property awards in TPOsInjuries requiring medical attentionDebts - Credit abuseLack of Enforcement
26 Custody and BatterersBatterers are twice as likely to seek sole physical custody for their children than are non-violent fathers.When batterers do press for custody, they are awarded it at the same rate of non-batterers, 50% of the time.
27 Forced Joint Custody Forcing joint physical custody on unwilling parents results in highlevels of parentalconflict and re-litigation,leaving children withtwo tense and angryparents.
28 Court shall consider the perpetrator’s history of harming another; Standards on Awarding Custody when FV - OCGA (a)(2) – “In a proceeding awarding custody/visitation when family violence is found:”Court shall consider as primary the safety and well-being of the child and parent who is the victim of family violence;Court shall consider the perpetrator’s history of harming another;If one parent is absent or relocates because of family violence such shall not be deemed abandonment of the child;Court can order supervised visitation.
29 Visitation - OCGA (a)(2) – in a proceeding awarding custody/visitation when family violence is found:Court shall consider as primary the safety and well-being of the child and parent who is the victim of family violence;Court shall consider the perpetrator’s history of harming another;If one parent is absent or relocates because of family violence such shall not be deemed abandonment of the child;Court can order supervised visitation.Visitation CentersAlternatives
30 Safety Planning With the Adult With the Children Shelter Advocates - Experts in this areaAre Advocates on Case Panels in your community?
31 How Can We Hold the Batterer Accountable for the Violence - Not the Victim? Separate Caseplans for Perpetrators
32 Batterer Case Plans Perpetrator will: Commit no acts of violence; Commit no intimidating acts, threats or verbal abuseRemove all weaponsComply with all court ordersAttend and comply with all Batterer Intervention program recommendationsNot use physical violence against children
33 Batterer case plans Acknowledge past abuse Comply with substance abuse recommendationsComply with mental health recommendationsPay child support as ordered
34 “The total length of separations of mothers and children [that NY CPS] has caused is measured in years. The suffering and trauma it has caused cannot be measured.” Judge J. Weinstein, Findings of Fact, Nicholson v. Williams